Environment, Energy, and Telecommunications

ENVIRONMENT

Clean Water and Drinking Water Grants and Loans

Total Texas Funding Available:$341.6 million ($180.9 to Clean Water State Revolving Fund; $160.7 to Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund)

Overview:

Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF)
The Texas Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) provides loans at interest rates lower than the market to political subdivisions with the authority to own and operate a wastewater system.The Texas CWSRF is expected to receive approximately $281 million to fund “shovel ready” projects that will create jobs.The purpose of the CWSRF program is to implement the federal Clean Water Act and various state laws by providing financial assistance for the construction of facilities or implementation of measures necessary to address water quality problems and to prevent pollution of the waters of the State.Eligible uses for CWSRF loans include planning, design, and construction of:(1) wastewater treatment facilities; (2) wastewater recycling and reuse facilities; (3) collection systems; (4) stormwater pollution control projects; and (5) nonpoint source pollution control projects.

Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SDWSRF)
The Texas Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) provides loans at interest rates lower than the market offers to finance projects for public drinking water systems that facilitate compliance with primary drinking water regulations or otherwise significantly further the health protection objectives of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).Projects must also be consistent with the 2002 State Water Plan.Eligible uses include planning, design, and construction of projects: to upgrade or replace water supply infrastructure; to correct exceedances of SDWA health standards; to consolidate water supplies; and to purchase capacity in water systems.

Program-specific Information for Both Clean Water and Drinking Water Revolving Funds:

  • The federal Administrator is directed to reallocate Revolving Fund monies where projects are not under contract or construction within 12 months of the date of enactment .
  • Directs priority funding to projects on state priority lists that are ready to proceed to construction within 12 months of enactment.
  • Prohibits the use of both Revolving Funds for the purchase of land easements and to prohibit other set asides under Section 1452 (k) of the Safe Drinking Water Act that do not directly create jobs.
  • States are directed to use “not less than 50 percent” of the funds for principal forgiveness, negative interest loans, or grants.
  • Not less than 20 percent of funds shall go for green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, or other environmentally innovative activities (provided these types of applications are received).

How to Access Funding:

Both funds are run through the Texas Water Development Board.

Clean Water State Revolving Funds:
http:///www.twdb.state.tx.us/assistance/financial/fin_infrastructure/cwsrffund.asp or (512) 463-8510.

Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds:
http:///www.twdb.state.tx.us/assistance/financial/fin_infrastructure/dwsrf.asp or (512) 475-4816

Updated March 16:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issues guidance information for both programs:

http:///www.epa.gov/water/eparecovery/docs/2009-03-02_Final_ARRA_SRF_Guidance.pdf

Brownfields

Total Texas Funding Available:Unknown; $100 million available at the federal level

Overview:
Funding for competitive grants for brownfield sites. Funds from the federal Act will likely be used to fund ongoing grants through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (U.S. EPA) Brownfields Site Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants program.Eligible uses for the funds are likely to be site assessment, clean-up grants, and revolving loans and job training.

How to Access Funding:
Currently unknown; competitive grants will likely go through the U.S. EPA Brownfields Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants program.

Federal Contact:

Ms. Monica Smith, Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6 Brownfields Coordinator, at (214)665-6780; or http:///www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6sf/bfpages/bfteam.htm

Hazardous Substance Superfund

Total Texas Funding Available:Unknown; $600 million available at the federal level

Overview:
The federal superfund remedial program provides funds for the long-term clean-up of abandoned hazardous toxic waste sites.Program-specific Information:Federal stimulus funding through this program is discretionary by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).

How to Access Funding:
Funding will be distributed through the U.S. EPA.www.epa.gov/superfund

Federal Contact:

US EPA Region 6 Superfund: (214) 665-6701 or http:///www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6sf/6sf.htm.

State Contact:

TCEQ State Superfund Program:superfnd@tceq.state.tx.us or http:///www.tceq.state.tx.us/remediation/superfund/index.html

ENERGY

Posted April 20: Office of Rural Community Affairs (ORCA) and Rural Alliance for Renewable Energy (RARE) to hold workshop on energy projects in rural Texas:The workshop is to take place from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Monday, May 18, 2009 in Austin.Speakers at the workshop will include representatives from the State Energy Conservation Office, which is to administer much of the stimulus money for energy projects in Texas.ORCA and RARE encourage local officials from rural cities to participate in the workshop.For more details on the workshop, please visit http:///www.orca.state.tx.us/.

Posted January 13: The Department of Energy issued guidance on the “Buy American” provisions for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects funded by ARRA.To access the guidance, as well as frequently asked questions and instructions for waiver requests, please visit: http:///www1.eere.energy.gov/recovery/buy_american_provision.html.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants

Total Texas Funding Available: Nearly $209 million in direct formula grants to Texas state, city, and county governments (see http:///www.eecbg.energy.gov/States/TX.xls for eligible cities and amounts).$445 million will be made available nationally through competitive grants.

Overview:
As a part of the Energy Independence and Security Act passed on December 19, 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy was given the authority to administer the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program.The purpose of this money is to reduce fossil fuel emissions and improve energy efficiency through grants that will fund local initiatives, including building and home energy conservation programs, energy audits, fuel conservation programs, building retrofits to increase energy efficiency, “smart growth” planning and zoning, and alternative energy programs.

Cities receiving a direct formula grant (over 35,000 in population) must apply directly to the U.S. Department of Energy for their determined allocation; a city under 35,000 must apply to the Texas State Energy Conservation Office, who will be administering the program statewide, but has not yet developed a method to make the funding available.

Program-specific Information:
Eligible entities may use the funds for:

  • Developing/implementing an energy efficiency and conservation strategy;
  • Retaining technical consultant services to assist in the development of such strategy;
  • Conducting residential and commercial building energy audits;
  • Establishing financial incentive programs for energy efficiency improvements (e.g., loan programs, rebate programs, waive permit fees);
  • Providing grants to nonprofit organizations to perform energy efficiency retrofits;
  • Developing/implementing programs to conserve energy used in transportation;
  • Developing and implementing building codes and inspection services to promote building energy efficiency;
  • Implementing energy distribution technologies;
  • Developing public education programs to increase participation and efficiency rates for recycling programs;
  • Purchasing/implementing technologies to reduce and capture methane and other greenhouse gases generated by landfills or similar sources;
  • Installing light emitting diodes (LEDS);
  • Developing, implementing, and installing on or in any government buildings of onsite renewable energy technology that generates electricity from renewable resources (solar and wind energy, fuel cells, and biomass); and
  • Any other activity as determined by the Secretary of Energy in consultation with the Secretaries of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

For cities under 35,000, no specific guidelines have been created, but items to be considered may include, among other goals:

  • Development, implementation, and installation on or in any government building of onsite renewable energy technology that generates electricity from renewable resources (solar and wind energy, fuel cells, and biomass);
  • Conducting residential and commercial building energy audits; and
  • Development and implementation of building codes and inspection services to promote building energy efficiency.

How to Access Funding:

Cities over 35,000 population:
A city with more than 35,000 inhabitants must register and apply for EECBG funds by using the FedConnect Web portal.More information on using FedConnect can be found at: https://www.fedconnect.net/FedConnect/PublicPages/FedConnect_Ready_Set_Go.pdf.

The application process for the formula grants is open.Using Reference Number DE-FOA-0000013, cities can download applications at www.grants.gov, and submit applications at www.fedconnect.net/.The application deadline for eligible cities to apply to the Department of Energy is June 25, 2009, at 8:00 pm Eastern Time.More information is available at http:///apps1.eere.energy.gov/wip/block_grants.cfm.

Some details to keep in mind regarding these funds:

  • Based on funding levels, formula grants will be released in stages.
  • Local governments will be required to submit a proposed Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy either with the application or within 120 days after the effective date of the award.
  • Entities are required to obligate/commit all funds within 18 months from the effective date of the award.In the event funds are not obligated/committed within 18 months, DOE reserves the right to deobligate the funds and cancel the award.
  • The Recovery Act gives preference to activities that can be started and completed expeditiously, including a goal of using at least 50 percent of the funds made available by it for activities that can be initiated not later than June 17, 2009.

The Department of Energy has posted model energy conservation strategies for cities on their website: http:///www.eecbg.energy.gov/solutioncenter/eligibleactivities/activity_1.html

Federal Contact:
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) of the U.S. Department of Energy:

EERE Information Center via phone, e-mail or website:
1-877-EERE-INFO (1-877-337-3463)
E-Mail: eereic@ee.doe.gov
Web site: http:///www.eere.energy.gov/informationcenter/
In addition, it may be helpful to subscribe to EERE’s Progress Alerts:http:///www.eere.energy.gov/news/subscribe.cfm

State Contact:
Texas State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), Local Governments Program; (512) 463-1770 or http:///www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/arra/arra_eecbg.php

Posted April 8, 2009: The National League of Cities (NLC) Will host a Webcast titled “Implementation of the Economic Recovery Act: The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant” on Tuesday, April 14, 2009, from 11:00 a.m. – Noon.The Webcast will be available live and fully archived for later viewing by April 15, 2009, at the NLC economic recovery Webcast event site: www.NLCTV.org.

Posted June 30:The application deadline for EECBG entitlement cities has been extended until Monday, August 10, 2009, at 8 PM Eastern Time.Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy has put into place an appeals process for eligibility determinations regarding direct formula grants.For details on both the deadline extension and the appeals process, please visit http:///www.eecbg.energy.gov/.

Posted October 27:As of September 21, the comptroller has sent out notification letters to all eligible “non-entitlement” cities of the opportunity to receive funding under the EECBG program.Eligible cities must postmark and submit their signed Notifications of Intent to SECO by November 6, 2009.Eligible cities must postmark and submit their adopted resolution to SECO by November 22, 2009.Finally, eligible cities must postmark and submit their completed applications for the funding by December 22, 2009.To view a sample allocation packet containing these documents as well as information on acceptable uses of EECBG funds, please visit http:///www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/arra/eecbg/docs/EECBG_SamplePacket.pdf.

Posted October 27:SECO will be hosting a webinar for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program applicants on Friday, October 30 from 10:30am – 11:30 am.The Webinar will focus on process, deadlines, and available resources.For more information and to reserve your Webinar seat, please visit http:///www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/arra/events/index.php.

Posted October 27: The Railroad Commission of Texas has informed Texas cities that one potentially beneficial use of EECBG funds would be to replace existing water heaters in city facilities with tankless propane water heaters, which could save on energy costs.For more information on spending EECBG funds for this purpose, please contact Pat Wilson with the Railroad Commission at (512) 475-2911, and also view this letter from the Railroad Commission.

Weatherization Assistance

Total Texas Funding Available: $298 million

Overview:
Provides funds to Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs for energy-related improvements to homes and to help low-income customers control their energy costs through the installation of weatherization materials and consumer education.It includes a wide variety of energy efficiency measures that encompass the building envelope, its heating and cooling systems, its electrical system, and electricity consuming appliances.

Program-specific Information:
Texas WAP funding is available to 34 existing WAP providers, cities whose populations exceed 75,000 (based on 2000 Census) and whose criteria-based award exceeds $1,000,000, and units of local government and/or non profits whose population does not exceed 75,000 persons based on 2000 Census data.Each of the entities must apply in order to be considered for a WAP contract.Three pools of funds will be used in the distribution of funds to subrecipients.

The first pool, the Existing Subrecipient Network pool, is a reservation of $180,000,000 available solely to existing weatherization service providers serving all 254 counties.The Existing Subrecipient Network is the network of 34 existing WAP providers as included in the PY 2009 State Plan.

The second pool, Criteria Based Awards pool, is an allocation of $101,873,523 available to cities whose populations exceed 75,000 persons (2000 Census). The approved award amounts are based on the poverty populations in each city (2000 Census).Based on the poverty calculation not all cities with populations exceeding 75,000, qualify for awards in excess of $1,000,000. For cities whose awards do not exceed $1,000,000 the award will be made directly with the existing local weatherization provider from the Existing Subrecipient Network in order to efficiently administer the program.The existing Subrecipient Network provider is restricted to using those funds only within the city limits as awarded.

The third pool, Competitive Pool, is for units of local government and non-profits with less than 75,000 persons.Eligible applications will be scored for a minimum award of $500,000 and maximum award of $1,000,000.

How to Access Funding:
Low income residents in Texas can apply for weatherization funding through the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA). All applications submitted for the Existing Subrecipient Network Pool must be received on or before 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday June 23, 2009, regardless of method of delivery.All applications submitted for the Competitive Pool and the Criteria Based Awards must be received on or before 5:00 p.m. on Friday June 26, 2009, regardless of method of delivery.

Posted April 28, 2010: TDHCA has issued a Request for Applications (RFA) to seek out additional eligible entities (including cities) to administer Weatherization Assistance Program funds.Cities may submit an application to TDHCA to participate in this program beginning May 14, 2010 and ending on November 10, 2010, or when the RFA is otherwise closed.TDHCA will be holding an application workshop on May 7th in Austin, and attendance prior to application submission is mandatory.

The RFA can be accessed at http:///www.tdhca.state.tx.us/recovery/docs/WAP-RFA.doc.For more information on the workshop, including registration information, please see the registration form, here:http:///www.tdhca.state.tx.us/recovery/docs/WAP-RFA-WorkshopRegistration.doc.

Federal Contact:

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) of the US Department of Energy, Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program; http:///www.eere.energy.gov/wip

State Contact:

TDHCA Weatherization Assistance Program: http:///www.tdhca.state.tx.us/recovery/detail-wap.htm.For additional information on the program, please see the TDHCA Notice of Funding Availability at http:///www.tdhca.state.tx.us/recovery/docs/09-WAP-NOFA.pdf.

State Energy Program

Total Texas Funding Available: Over $218 million.

Overview: The State Energy Program (SEP) is designed to assist state and local governments to cut energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The stimulus funds will be administered by the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to help state agencies, local governments, school districts, public colleges and universities, public hospitals and municipal utilities pay for energy-saving upgrades and installations.

The five project areas within the SEP are as follows: (1) Building Efficiency/Retrofit Program; (2) Transportation Efficiency Program; (3) Distributed Renewable Energy Technology Program; (4) Energy Center Training Centers; and (5) Public Education and Outreach.

How to Access Funding: The U.S. Department of Energy approved the SEP for Texas on July 10, 2009.Information on how to access the funding will be updated on SECO’s website as details are finalized (see below for link).

Federal Contact: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy:http:///apps1.eere.energy.gov/state_energy_program/recovery_act.cfm.

State Contact: For information on how to access funding and details on the five project areas within the SEP, please visit SECO’s website at http:///www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/arra/sep/index.php.

Posted September 18: SECO has posted the Request for Applications (RFA) for the Alternative Fuels Project, which is part of the Transportation Efficiency Program.Applications for funding under this project are due at 2:00 pm (CZT) on Monday, October 19, 2009.To access the RFA, please visit http:///www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/arra/sep/transportation/index.php.

Posted September 30: SECO has posted the Request for Applications (RFA) for the Distributed Renewable Energy Technology Program, the purpose of which is to increase the amount of installed renewable energy in Texas, advance the market for renewable technologies, and to assist in meeting the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard target of 10,000 megawatts in 2025.Applications for funding under this program are due at 2 p.m. (CZT), on Friday, October 30, 2009.To access the RFA, please visit http:///www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/arra/sep/renewable/index.php.

Posted December 7:SECO has posted the Request for Applications (RFA) for the Building Efficiency and Retrofit Program, the purpose of which is to increase the energy efficiency of public sector buildings and other facilities in order to create jobs, reduce energy consumption, and increase energy cost savings.Applications for funding under this program are due at 2:00 pm (CST) on Wednesday, December 30, 2009.To access the RFA and learn more about the program, please visit http:///www.seco.cpa.state.tx.us/arra/sep/building/index.php.

Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability

Total Texas Funding Available:Unknown; funds to be distributed only to electric grid operators.In Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) would be the entity receiving the funds. The DOE has not determined the amount of funding amount for each grid operator.

Overview:
$4.5 billion: $100 million for worker training; $80 million for resource and transmission needs assessment; and remaining funds to implement smart grid program.

Program-specific Information:
Funding for research and development, pilot projects and matching funds for the Smart Grid Investment Program to modernize the electric grid, enhance security and reliability of energy infrastructure, and facilitate recovery from disruptions to the energy supply.

How to Access Funding:
Funding will be discretionary by the federal Department of Energy (DOE).

Federal Contact:

www.doe.gov

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy R&D

Total Texas Funding Available: Unknown; $2.5 billion at the federal level

Overview:

  • $800 million for projects related to biomass
  • $400 million for geothermal activities and projects
  • $1.3 billion for base program activities, such as research and demonstrations into additional renewable technologies

How to Access Funding:
Funding will be discretionary by the federal Department of Energy (DOE).

Federal Contact:

www.doe.gov

Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds

Total Texas Funding Available: Unknown; $803 million at the federal level

Overview:Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds are project-specific bonds that may be issued by state, local, or tribal governments and electricity cooperatives for qualifying public (government) renewable energy projects or energy efficiency and conservation projects.These bonds may also be issued to make loans and grants for capital expenditures to implement "green" community programs.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Broadband Initiatives Program and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (Updated July 8)

Total Texas Funding Available: Unknown; $7.2 billion total at the federal level ($2.5 for Broadband Initiatives Program; $4.7 billion for Broadband Technology Opportunities Program).

Overview: The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service has established the Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) which may extend loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration has established the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) which makes available grants for deploying broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas in the United States, enhancing broadband capacity at public computer centers, and promoting sustainable broadband adoption projects.

How to Access Funding:Please see the Notice of Funding Availability at http:///broadbandusa.gov/files/BB%20NOFA%20FINAL%2007092009.pdf. Applications will be accepted between July 14, 2009 at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) until August 14, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Posted March 13: NATOA to Host Webinar on Broadband Recovery Funds: The economic recovery package included $7 billion in funding for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. On Wednesday, March 18, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) will be hosting an eNATOA Seminar titled “Gaining Access to Broadband Stimulus Funds.” Session speakers will review the broadband provisions in the recovery package; provide insights on what to expect from the application process; and share tips on how leveraging and managing community partnerships can improve your grant application's prominence in the competitive process and how your community can meet the 20 percent matching funds requirement in a variety of ways. For more information about the seminar or to register, go to www.natoa.org.

Federal Contact: Broadband USA:http:///broadbandusa.sc.egov.usda.gov/index.htm

Posted August 17: The National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Rural Utilities Service have extended the application deadline for the Broadband Initiatives Program and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program until 5 p.m EDT on August 20, 2009.

Posted January 20, 2010:Round Two of Broadband Grants Application Period Announced.The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) have announced the availability of $4.8 billion in stimulus funds to expand broadband access to predominately rural areas.The agencies plan to accept applications from February 16, 2010 to March 15, 2010, and announce all awards by September 30, 2010.

For more on round two of broadband funding, please visit:http:///www.ntia.doc.gov/press/2010/BTOP_BIP_NOFAII_100115.html.Cities can access the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) for the two programs here:http:///www.broadbandusa.gov/files/RUS%20Round%20Two%20NOFA%20Final.pdf (RUS), http:///www.broadbandusa.gov/files/BTOP%20NOFA%201-15-10%20with%20disclaimer.pdf (NTIA).

Additionally, the NTIA and RUS will hold a series of public workshops to answer questions and explain the application process, including a workshop in San Antonio on February 1.For more information, including registration information, please visit:http:///www.broadbandusa.gov/workshop.htm.